The question “What’s for dinner?” is easily answered during football season thanks to the high school stadium concession stands.
Hungry fans flocking to their favorite hometown sporting events usually make their way to the concession stand probably more than once.
It’s a great way to feed a crowd and raise funds for student clubs and organizations.
Volunteers contribute valuable hours to feed the appetites of the hometown crowd and visitors, too. The most important job of a concession worker is to ensure the food is safe.
Four simple steps for food safety should be followed in a concession stand. Steps include: clean, separate, cook and chill. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers the following tips to keep food safe from bacteria:
Keep the stand and area clean and sanitary.
Wash hands and forearms with warm, running water and soap for at least 20 seconds before handling food, after handling raw meat and after using the bathroom. Wash hands after handling money, before putting on disposable gloves, and before touching food.
Wear disposable gloves and change them often when using bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
Wash all surfaces with hot soapy water often to kill bacteria.
Wash all utensils and dishes with hot soapy water before and after each use, including machines such as popcorn, warmers, snow cone, etc.
Wash ice coolers. A mixture of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water can be prepared and put in spray bottles for sanitizing equipment and work surfaces.
Keep foods separate and don’t cross-contaminate. Raw meats, poultry and seafood should separate from all other foods.
Use separate cutting boards for raw meat products and other foods. Wash cutting boards with hot soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat products.
Use separate dishes and utensils for raw meats and cooked foods.
Use a food thermometer to check the temperatures of foods. Hamburgers should be cooked until they reach 160 degrees in the center. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chili and other hot foods should be held at 140 degrees or higher until ready to serve.
Never leave foods out at room temperature for more than two hours. It can grow bacteria.
Keep lettuce, cut vegetables or fruits and opened jars of condiments in a cooler with ice or in a refrigerator.
Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator is 40 degrees or cooler and use a food thermometer to make sure food being chilled on ice is 40 degrees or cooler.
Never thaw foods at room temperature. Always thaw food in a refrigerator, under cool running water or in the microwave.
Never leave perishable foods at room temperature for more than two hours or one hour if the area is hot.
Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the Hall County Extension Office 770-535-8290.